My youngest recently stopped wearing diapers. It’s a good thing, of course—and it was time. She just turned three and like with my other children she made the decision herself, firmly, that she was done with all that.
She's not been a baby for some time and will tell you so. But being our youngest, we have kept her in our minds as such, and it's impossible to deny now that she's well beyond babyhood.
It has kind of moved us undeniably into a new phase of parenting: we no longer have any semblance of a baby or even really a toddler. We now have three children whose needs are increasingly being met by the same means as we meet our own.
The days of play mats meeting their intellectual and physical development needs are long over. Now we spend our time going to soccer practice, swimming lessons, tumbling classes.
Playdates are no longer me sitting with a friends having coffee while our children putter around a Thomas the Tank Engine table. Now there are kids’ movies, birthday parties. Today we are going bowling with several of my children’s friends.
And now each of the two bathrooms in my house is more likely to be busy than not, long car rides or shopping excursions demand many more visits to public facilities than in the old days.
This is, of course, the point of parenting, to guide a baby into self-sufficiency.
We have been gradually getting rid of signs of baby over the last couple of years, of course: no more high chair, crib, baby bottles, onesies, cumbersome buggies. But somehow this last development has made it strike home that the baby days are over. Childhood is in full throttle.
They have opinions about clothes, music, food, what plans we are making. We no longer have to fit naps into our schedule or lug around a diaper bag (at one point all three of my children—there are fewer than three years between them—were in diapers).
The pure maintenance that was parenting—keeping them clean, fed, clothed—has been replaced with a new form of cohabitation. This is, of course, the point of parenting, to guide a baby into self-sufficiency. It's just surprising sometimes how quickly things shift, how nothing feels gradual.
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But we look forward to a future of shared opinions and respectful disagreements, all the pros and cons of five people sharing a space and, now, a bathroom.